Nonprofit Emergencies are Hard
Nonprofits tend to cruise along OK…until you hit a speed bump. If you're here, there's something big that needs to be handled, RIGHT NOW. Don't Panic. You’re in the right place.
How we approach conflicts and crisis:
I spent several years in-house at a large nonprofit and I'm a trained mediator. When I work with my team on a client emergency, our goals are:
✓ Minimize your lost time and money
✓ Help clients make clear decisions
✓ Reduce harm to the nonprofit
✓ Preserve your working relationships
It's a small world. The people in a conflict today may be potential funders or donors tomorrow. I can help you keep a clear head through difficult times, navigate situations with integrity and plan the way forward.
Things we can help with:
● Board and staff conflicts or removal
● Voting member disputes
● Financial fraud or theft
● Disagreements with key partners or outside groups
● PR nightmares
What clients say about working with us?
“This is the most thorough, but easy to understand email I've EVER read from a lawyer. THANK YOU!!!” – Mandi, voting member at an educational organization
“They were able to expedite my meeting and even get some quick advice the same day! The attempt to accommodate was refreshing and her advice was very intuitive to the situation and helped immensely!” – Bruce, Board member facing a time sensitive issue at a small nonprofit
“Jess knows [our staff] aren't administrators. She's patient. She works with them and helps them understand. At the end of the day it's not just about getting the job done, it's about helping them understand why we need to be where we're at.” – Ron, Public Finance Director at a national nonprofit
Jess has one of the coolest law practices I know about, selling affordable legal-as-a-subscription services to nonprofits throughout Minnesota. She has built some incredible systems and delivery tools where clients--once they join her program--can self-serve a lot of the legal documents they need to keep their organization humming. Jess helps make sure you keep up with all of your required filings, and you get to meet with Jess and her team for personalized advice when you need it.
We started using Birken Law after getting the Mission Guardian subscription service for our small nonprofit. It’s been invaluable. We have worked with Jess on many issues, large and small. She has helped with board governance, conflict of interest, contracts, hiring, and most recently she helped our board draft a resolution. I can’t imagine working in a nonprofit without such a service. It’s invaluable to have readily accessible legal advice. Mostly we use the mini-consult sessions, but we’ve also used the flat fee service. Both types are easy to schedule online. We like that you can opt to submit a written mini-consult question and get a written response, but we’ve also arranged telephone mini-consults. Mini-consult sessions are great for clarifying and/or resolving small issues before they become complicated. We’ve also used their online resources; you can read or download articles on a variety of useful nonprofit topics. Birken Law is outstanding. Jess understand nonprofits and the legal issues they face—she’s thoughtful, wise, and fun to work with too!
Jess is awesome to work with! Worth every penny and our organization is excited to work with her for the long haul!
Jess is a stellar example of what a lawyer should be. Client-focused, solutions-driven, responsive, beyond competent, and dedicated to her practice. I have had the pleasure of presenting with Jess at major national conferences, which means relying upon her as a partner to prepare written and spoken materials, and to be reliable, knowledgeable, and collaborative. She is all of these things. I would never hesitate to team up with her where my reputation is on the line. I have also witnessed firsthand Jess's dedication to her clients. We have worked intensely on the business of our firms together, and her client focus has taught me many things. Nowhere else will you find a lawyer committed to solving her clients' problems (whether that means hiring her or not) and making their experience in working with her enjoyable and rewarding. In the course of working together on projects, Jess has demonstrated her depth of knowledge of non-profit law, and I would not hesitate for a moment to hire her if the need arises. I simply cannot recommend her highly enough.
Our church needed urgent legal help regarding changing our corporate status so that we could close on a renovation loan. Jess' office was able to talk with us on the phone about the issue immediately and within 3 hours we had an hour-long consult with Jess. She was proactive in her communication with all parties and went and filed the necessary documents in person. Because she was there in person - keep in mind we were working off of photocopies of a 107 year-old documents - Jess was able to fix a problem on the spot (a 5-6 look an awfully lot alike on old documents) and get the recorder to accept the filing. This meant we could move forward with closing without delay. I could not recommend Jess or her firm more highly.
Workflow of a Nonprofit Emergency
1. Assessment & Diagnoses Phase. Book an ER Session. We'll work with you to try to stabilize, create a plan of action or (if possible) resolve the situation in under 2 hours. Time is usually critical to the process.
2. Action Phase. We help you develop a plan in the ER Session. Often clients elect to have us help with the plan, helping you manage the situation and connect you with resources you need while things are still in “triage” mode. We strive to be highly responsive in this phase.
3. Retrospective Phase. After the smoke clears, things feel less urgent. Now let's look at what we can do to protect you going forward. We typically work with clients to implement changes that will prevent future costly issues and keep mission delivery front and center.